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August 06, 2009

Crime Fiction Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Newsweek's book critic Malcolm Jones reviews some of the strengths of noir fiction, and offers some recommendations in the genre.

* A nice passage from Irish novelist John Banville, who writes both literary novels and (as Benjamin Black) crime fiction:

I deplore the apartheid that has been imposed on fiction writing, so that in shops the "crime books" are segregated from the "proper" novels. Of course, there are bad crime novels, many of which seem to have been written with the blunt end of a burnt stick, but the same is true of so-called literary fiction. The distinction between good writing and bad is the only one worth making.

* In an interview with Tom Piccirilli, Ed Gorman recalls his ornery early days. (I raved about one of Ed's western novels here. Here's Ed's own blog.)

* Enjoy some fun visual interpretations of Donald Westlake's great creation, the brutal crook Parker. The LA Times' Geoff Boucher enjoys a new graphic-novel adaptation of one of the Parker novels, and links to a trailer for John Boorman's amazing 1967 Westlake / Parker adaptation, "Point Blank." UPDATE: Whisky Prajer offers a well-illustrated rave about that graphic-novel Parker.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I praised the work of the brilliant Gold Medal crime novelist Charles Williams.



posted by Michael at August 6, 2009


Point Blank! What a great movie, and elevated by its supporting actors, Vernon and Bochner.

I'm uneasy about respectability for noir writers. Simenon achieved it, but without writing a single try-hard phrase in his massive output. Perhaps the gloomy atmospherics of works like "The Snow was Dirty" gave him more cred with lit-critics. Even James Hadley Chase has one or two cred-generators, like "Eve", recently republished in Italian, with critical intro etc. But I feel all this defeats the purpose. And it encourages crime authors to get all deep-and-prosey, or affectedly hard-edged, or enviro-political, or something else that's off the point.

Recently I was rummaging in a cheapo bin outside a Paris bookstore and there was a wizened little bloke next to me hoovering up every James Hadley Chase. The French covers are different to the Anglo versions, but just as alluring and tawdry. I asked him about Chase and, after a moment's thought, the Frenchman declared Chase the best of all. This, about fifty-year old fake-American fiction, manufactured by the kilo in England. What's more, the French guy knew it.

And (gulp) I'm tempted to agree!

Posted by: Robert Townshend on August 6, 2009 3:04 AM

I'm diggin' Darwyn Cooke's "Parker" comic book in a big, big way as well (here)! Was not aware, however, that Robert Duval had been tagged for a Parker role. Has anyone seen it? How'd he fare?

Posted by: Whisky Prajer on August 6, 2009 9:26 AM

That new Parker book by Darwyn Cooke is very nice. Donald P. should check it out - I think he'd really dig it!

Duvall plays Parker in The Outfit, which is playing tomorrow at Anthology Film Archives in NYC. I like him: he plays the character in a way that takes away any tough guy romanticism/mystique, though.

Posted by: Jon Hastings on August 6, 2009 10:58 AM

Agreed on Point Blank as great movie. I saw it when it came out and my most distinct memory is that of the click-click-click of of Lee Marvin's heels as he walks alone through hallways--the same motif the trailer chose to emphasize. However, I don't recall all of the scenes of the trailer as being in the movie.

Posted by: fenster moop on August 7, 2009 5:41 PM

I recently saw 'Point Blank' and was surprised by what a weird, abstract movie it is. I was expecting an artful but straightforward potboiler. I recommend watching the DVD with commentary from Boorman and Steven Soderbergh.

Robert, don't forget supporting player Carroll O'Connor!

Posted by: green mamba on August 8, 2009 9:21 PM

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